A New Music Class Comes to WSH

Music Theory will foster a new appreciation for music composition among students

William Collins, Staff Writer

  There is a new class on the schedule for next year and that class is music theory. Music theory is a study of the roots and forms in which music exists, so a class about this could prove beneficial to the school’s music program and music students’ educations.

  “Music theory is the study of the construct of how music is made. It is mathematical and logical and so often gives purpose and names [to parts of music,]” Choir Director Erich Wangeman said. 

  It is still undecided whether or not this class should be AP or not. As of right now, no teachers at the school are certified to teach an AP music theory class so they would have to get certification.

  “The advanced placement curriculum is much more advanced than just a music theory course. Let’s say for a standard course there are 100 concepts taught, and in an AP course there would be 500 concepts. It goes more in-depth. In AP you are following a curriculum that is essentially offered to any college freshman in music,” Wangeman said. 

  For some students, an AP course might be valuable to earn credits from before college but to others a class with a less rigid curriculum would be far more enjoyable. Moreover the study of a class surrounding any form of music theory could be a unique and desirable option for many music students. 

  “Instead of functioning as an ensemble that performs everyday, there’s more time spent listening deeply and closely to music and there’s more time spent literally analyzing with a pencil and paper, writing things out, charting things out. However it will depend on the teacher and how they structure it. When I taught it there was a fair amount of improvisation,” Orchestra Director Ingrid Pylvainen said.

  A course like this could help students interested in music improve upon those skills. For students in another music class, it could help them find a deeper understanding of music.

  “Anyone who is in a music class and wants more of a challenge or wants to understand it more. Anyone going into music, should take this. Even if you’re not in a music class, if you’re in guitar club or something you could still take it,” sSophomore Jake Lober said.

  A class on music theory would not work like any other music class. Most music classes are all about performing and practicing pieces, not understanding them.

  “The purpose of them is to have students experience music through rehearsal and performance of the music. That takes a great deal of skill and knowledge, but what we don’t explore in performance based classes are the mathematical, theoretical reasons. They don’t get into the really advanced forms and functions,” Wangeman said.

  From a day to day basis a class like this could have several functions. There would be days spent analyzing music and the structures which build it and days attempting to create music of students’ own.

  “In a basic sense you would have chord building, chord progressions, key signatures, modes, hopefully ear training and eventually composing music,” Lober said.

  This breaches an exciting new aspect for the schools musical program in that with this class students would be able to analyze the craft of music and potentially write it.

  “Students get to appreciate the work of a composer on a whole new level. [They would also be able to] learn how to write music [and develop that] skill which would be a really cool angle or thing to take away from this class for any musician,” Pylvainen said.